Winter is an amazing – and beautiful – time of year to play outside in Calgary. Here are 15 ideas for winter family fun in Calgary:
1. Explore the Ice Falls and Caves of Fish Creek Provincial Park
Visit Fish Creek Provincial Park in winter to see ice falls, ice caves, and an outdoor art gallery. The 2-storey ice falls are only 5-minutes from the parking lot! Allow time to visit the Artisan Garden (home to 175 sculptures), and dine at Bow Valley Ranche Restaurant. See our story: The Ice Falls and Ice Caves of Fish Creek Park for more info.
2. Ice Skate at Calgary’s Best Outdoor Skating Rinks
Skate at Calgary’s Best Outdoor Skating Rinks! Olympic Plaza, Calgary’s only outdoor refrigerated ice, opens in late November, and the others are usually ready by Christmas (weather permitting).
3. Ski, Snowboard, or Go Snow Tubing at Winsport
Winsport is your place for winter fun! Tube, ski, ice skate, and visit Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame. With 4 carpets, 2 chair lifts and a terrain park, there is fun for all boarders and skiers. Pop over after work to up your skills – they have night skiing! Lessons and rentals available too.
Tubing at Winsport’s Acura Tube Park is tons of fun for adventurous kids aged 5 & up (and grown-ups!). Whoosh down a 200-metre long course in less than 30 seconds! We were clocked at over 50 kilometres per hour! 10 fun runs to choose from. Visit Winsport for tickets, and see our story for more information.
4. Go Tobogganing
For free fun, hit up a local toboggan hill. The City of Calgary has a list of official toboggan hills here. Always wear a helmet and be aware of your surroundings! For more safe sledding tips, see my story: Sledding Safety Tips.
5. Cross Country Ski – for free!
Kick and glide at a local golf course! Confederation Park, Shaganappi, and Maple Ridge Golf Courses are groomed for cross country skiing in the winter and there is NO charge, but donations are appreciated. Check out Where to Cross Country Ski in Calgary for more groomed terrain near you! See Choosing Cross Country Skis for information on the various types of skis available and what to look for when outfitting your family with nordic skis.
6. Go on a Winter Walk (& Picnic)
Rediscover your favorite urban hikes in a new light. Snow adds a sparkling white blanket to the landscape and ice along the river makes funky ice sculptures. Bring ice cleats for traction, or snowshoes after a big dump of snow. Trails to explore:
- Nose Hill Park: Medicine Wheel, “Airport Rocks,” and intermittent pond
- Douglas Fir Trail, Edworthy Park
- Waterfall Valley, Bowmont Park
- Fish Creek Park’s Ice Falls and Caves
- Near Cochrane: Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park & Big Hill Springs Provincial Park
Parks with fire pits: Bowness Park, Edworthy Park, Fish Creek Park, and North Glenmore Park have fire pits if you’d like to bring firewood and have a picnic ’round the fire!
7. Calgary Zoo & ZOOLIGHTS
Winter is a wonderful time of year to visit the Calgary Zoo. There are fewer visitors (except on special event days) and there are plenty of places to warm up indoors: check out penguin feeding time at Penguin Plunge; say hello to the giraffes, hippos, and meerkats in the African Savannah; visit the gorillas and mandrills at The TransAlta Rainforest; then take family photos in the Conservatory and get hot cocoa at Kitamba Café! Special events include Zoolights, Calgary’s largest outdoor light display (late November to early January; 5 pm – 9 pm), and Sunday Brunch.
For more holiday fun, see our story: Holiday Fun in Calgary & Area.
8. Catch the World Premiere of Alberta Theatre Projects’ In Wonderland
The world premiere of Alberta Theatre Projects’ In Wonderland, written by Anna Cummers and directed by Haysam Kadri, runs from November 23 to December 31, 2021. This creatively written performance is based on the well-known tales of Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass and is portrayed by three talented actors. My kids asked “How will they do it with only three people?” and let me say, without giving any spoilers, that they do it very well. Clever dialogue, some physical humor, and Vaudeville-themed music kept us laughing and “stage magic” in the form of projections and lighting transported us to Wonderland. Recommended for 6 & up. For more information or tickets, visit Alberta Theatre Projects.
See what we loved about the show in our story Alberta Theatre Projects’ In Wonderland Holiday Show is Magical.
9. Discover cool landmarks around Calgary
From art installations to a Medicine Wheel, Calgary has some cool landmarks. For more information, see our story Landmarks to Look for in Calgary Parks.
10. Feed Thousands of Fish at Bow Habitat Station
Explore the Discovery Centre at Bow Habitat Station, feed thousands of fish at the fish hatchery, then go snowshoeing in Pearce Estate Park! (Note: Fish feeding and snowshoe rentals are extra charge.) Read about our experience in: Fishy Fun at Bow Habitat Station and check the Events Schedule for special programming before you go.
11. “Enjoy the magic of Christmas past” at Heritage Park’s Once Upon a Christmas
Kids will love the kids’ crafts, cookie decorating, story time, wagon ride, seeing Santa, and more at Heritage Park’s Once Upon a Christmas. Open from 10 am – 4 pm: December 4 & 5, 11 & 12, 18 & 19; and December 20 to 23, 2021.
For more holiday fun, see our story: Holiday Fun in Calgary & Area.
12. Ring in the New Year at Olympic Plaza (December 31, 2021)
The City of Calgary puts on a fun and free family-friendly New Year’s Eve celebration at Olympic Plaza each year. Enjoy live performances, ice skating, light shows, dance parties, and fireworks! Details at City of Calgary – New Year’s Eve.
13. Chinook Blast Festival (February 4 – February 27, 2022)
Chinook Blast is sure to warm your spirits “with a celebration of community, culture, and civic pride. The best of Calgary’s art, music, theatre, sport and recreation will be on display.” Plan to go at least twice in order to see the pop-up art installations, performances, and live music. Most of the displays are in the core, but a few are in East Village (Hygge Hut) and Inglewood (Northern Reflections Augmented Reality Art Tour).
14. Celebrate The Year of the Tiger (February 1, 2022)
Head to Chinatown for the Chinese New Year Festival for lion and dragon dances, games, food, and more! Festivities begin in late January (the new year starts February 1, 2022). See the Calgary Chinese Cultural Centre for details.
15. GLOW Downtown Winter Festival (February 10-12 & 17-19, 2022)
GLOW Downtown Winter Light Festival features “temporary, public outdoor light artwork that will light up the imaginations of Calgarian’s during winter’s darkest days;” live music; fire pits; and ice lounges. This unique, free festival takes place on Stephen Avenue from 6 pm – 11 pm for two weekends in a row (February 10-12 & 17-19, 2022). For more information, visit Glowfest YYC.
How do you make the most of winter?